I’ve never gotten around to seeing the musical comedy, “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change,” but I’ve always loved the title.
It summarizes beautifully the never-ending need of women---or at least some women---to try to change their men into something other than what they’ve been their entire lives.
Of course, a woman might say that she’s not really trying to change her man but to improve him---to get him to dress a little better, say, or broaden his interests beyond sports and video games, or speak in complete sentences.
To be sure, most men---myself included---need a fair amount of improvement, and maybe even some wholesale changes. But it’s not illogical for a man to ask (as many men have): “If it’s so important to her to have someone who looks good, dresses well, and has sophisticated tastes, why the hell did she marry me?”
It’s a fair question, and one that will be debated as long as there are men and women struggling to live together harmoniously. But it brings up another question, the flip side of the coin:
Why don't most men try to change their women into something they’re not?
I’m not talking here about men who are controlling, because I think that’s something different. A man who has the psychological need to control a woman is not trying to improve her but to keep her in a subservient condition. He almost doesn’t care who the woman is or what her qualities are, as long as she does what he says, without question or complaint. In extreme cases, the need to control can morph into the need to abuse.
But unless a man is a controller in that sense, he’s unlikely to be coming up with ways to “improve” his wife or girlfriend. Except in one respect. If she herself has changed since the time they met or got married---if, for example, she’s put on considerable weight, or seems to have lost her interest in sex---he’ll want her to go back to being “the woman she used to be.”
As a former divorce lawyer, I have had dozens of men tell me---sometimes tearfully---that they barely recognize their wife anymore: that she’s somehow become a different person. Despite their frustration, these men rarely wanted a divorce (the vast majority of divorce cases are filed by women). All they wanted was a return to the happy life they remembered.
But with my women clients, the story was usually the opposite: he hasn’t changed and he never will. He’s still the lazy, self-centered jerk he was twenty years ago. He still drinks too much, he still tries to pick up women, he still stares at the TV or the computer screen when I try to talk to him.